Like Beth Orton, Allison Goldfrapp was the muse of electronic artists before stepping out with a solo career. Whereas Orton hung around with fellows like the Chemical Brothers and William Orbit, Goldfrapp found a nice niche with the brothers Hartnoll, adding her pipes to tracks on their flat-out amazing release Insides and it's fairly solid follow-up of Middle Of Nowhere. Teaming up with Will Gregory, she dropped her debut album of Felt Mountain, and a whole boatload of slinky tracks that sound like they'd best be suited backing a James Bond movie.
With Black Cherry, Goldfrapp has gone from the seductive innocence of her first disc to nearly flat-out vamp. Whereas on her last disc she as least seemed like she had some dark secrets to hide, on Black Cherry she seems to pull them out and flaunt them in the listeners face. Sure, she's wearing ruby slippers on the cover art, but one look at her tarted-up Cabaret-esque photo on the front of the disc reveals that Dorothy isn't in Kansas anymore.
"Crystalline Green" opens the disc with a grunky low-end splatter for a beat and all kinds of keyboard shimmers and squiggles while Goldfrapp adds multiple layers of filtered vocals over the top. If that first track was a surprise, "Train" comes in even harder, sounding like a bit of EBM has slid into the mix with more modulated keyboards and a hand-clapping beat that goes right alongside her vocals that are again much more prominent.
If I didn't know better, I'd say that the duo was jumping on the electro (the trend that keeps on giving) bandwagon, but there are songs on the disc (like the album-titled "Black Cherry") that suggest more of a logical progression in sound, mixing the more breathy sounds of old with a touch of the more electronic-infected sounds of the new release. If anything, it seems to be as I suggested above, which is that the first album can be viewed more as a somewhat tenative debut and coming-of-age album (experimenting and hinting at sexuality with going at things so overtly), while Black Cherry is an obvious celebration of such. Goldfrapp's vocals are tweaked enough on the highly-dramatic "Tiptoe" (which goes from cinematic to growling) to fool you at first listen into thinking that Gregory has taken the singing reigns. Lyrically, the album seems to have taken a slight step backward along with the slightly less complex musical arrangements, but if you're looking for lines like, "put your dirty angel face / between my legs and knicker lace" coupled up with grimy keyboards that sound like a sister album to The Faint's Danse Macabre, you'll have a wicked good time here. Like that disc, I'm sure the remixes and singles from this release will have the dancefloors sweating it up all over the place.